On April 27, The World Food Prize Iowa Youth Institute at Iowa State University brought together over 250 high school students from 123 different high schools from across Iowa to explore critical global issues and academic and career paths in STEM fields. The Iowa Youth Institute has been referred to as the most significant event to inspire Iowa high school students to focus on the global issues in STEM.
Union High School student Cole Moody attended the day’s events, assisted by teacher/mentor Louis Beck. The paper focused on sustainable agriculture in Haiti.
Governor Terry Branstad provided the afternoon keynote to the students and business leaders from across the state. Branstad said, “In doing this together, we will keep Iowa at the forefront of science and agriculture and food production and uphold our state’s great legacy in feeding the world.”
The Iowa Youth Institute connects students interested in science, agriculture and related fields with Iowa leaders and innovators on the cutting edge of science and research. Each participating high school student wrote a research paper on a key issue that impacts hunger in another a country, such as water scarcity or gender inequality. The students propose their own solutions in small-group roundtable discussions facilitated by academic and industry experts, and students and teachers also participate in hands-on immersion activities in research facilities and labs at Iowa State University.
The impact of this event has a lasting effect that goes past the day itself. 92 percent of students that participate in the World Food Prize Youth Programs go on to peruse degrees in science and agriculture.
“For students who attended the institute, this is one of their first experiences facing food security issues. The Iowa Youth Institute combines the students’ passion for service with their interest in STEM, leaving a lasting impression on how they can make a positive difference in the lives of others in their future careers,” said Jacob Hunter, Director of Iowa Education at the World Food Prize.